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Kentucky Law Schools Partner to Introduce HBCU Undergraduates to Law School

The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s three law schools ­— University of Kentucky College of Law, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law — partnered on Nov. 22, 2019, to host a joint initiative to diversify the legal profession.

The “Become the Change: HBCU Law School Preview” program was developed to expose diverse students to the legal profession and provide networking opportunities and pertinent information about excelling in the application process. The program for diverse undergraduate students, specifically those from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), was held at the UK College of Law in Lexington.

Jimmi Nicholson, UK College of Law’s director of admissions, secured funding for the program through a Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) Diversity Matters Grant

“Access to justice is essential for a democratic society and diversity in the legal profession can increase access and quality of service in all of our communities,” said Nicholson. “Lawyers who reflect our increasingly diverse population can make a powerful and meaningful impact on the greater legal community and influence the future of their communities, government and the world.”

Through the grant program, LSAC member law schools are eligible for funding up to $3,000 to support diversity outreach efforts. Law schools are encouraged to host events that motivate students who are underrepresented in the legal profession — including racial and ethnic groups, the LGBTQ community, individuals with disabilities, and indigenous Canadians — to consider law as a career.

This initiative was designed to introduce students in community college, early college, high school and middle school to the legal profession, the law school admissions process and the skills tested on the Law School Admission Test and in law school classrooms.

Nicholson said the grant allowed program organizers to provide printed materials, lunch and T-shirts to the 30 students who participated.

In addition, the program included:

  • Information from the Law School Admissions Council on services for diverse applicants.
  • A mock class in UK Law’s G. Chad Perry III Grand Courtroom with UK College of Law William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law Melynda J. Price.
  • A panel discussion about the application process and how to be a competitive applicant.
  • Opportunities to hear from current law students from all three law schools and practicing attorneys.

Nicholson said she hopes the program will become an annual event. 

“‘Become the Change’ was a great opportunity for the students who attended,” Nicholson said. “They left the program feeling inspired and ready to join the profession.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.